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The NFL’s Negligent COVID Respose

After a positive COVID-19 test from Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs’ Sunday game will not go on as scheduled. The positive test results raised concern for anyone who came in contact with the quarterback over the past few days. No one else from the team has come back positive. 

The NFL still wanted the game to happen at 4:25 pm EST, however, a member of the Chiefs practice squad also got word of a positive COVID test. Multiple sources reported that the league finally pushed back the game until Monday or Tuesday.  That means that both teams were exposed to the virus, both teams had close contacts with someone with the virus.

Patriots and Chiefs Test Positive

On the morning of October 4th,  both teams were retested with no new positive tests. The Patriots expect more tests to come back this evening, hopefully still remaining negative for everyone. During team meetings, the NFL made the teams aware that the plan is to kickoff Monday at 7:05 pm EST. New England and Kansas City will also be administered tests Monday morning, prior to New England flying to Missouri.

The NFL should be taking COVID more seriously. They are being reactive instead of proactive in this situation. We saw an outbreak of the virus in the MLB, why didn’t the NFL take note? They had plenty of time to plan accordingly seeing as the pandemic started during the NFL’s scheduled offseason. Both the NHL and NBA chose to take the bubble city route, which worked. I know it’s hard to figure out how to create a bubble with 53 men teams, and that’s before personnel, but they are the ones with money and business degrees. They could have figured something out with the time they had and the evidence they had from the other leagues.

Tennessee’s Outbreak

The Tennessee Titans have also tested positive for the coronavirus. Starting September 24th, the team and league were aware that a player on the Titans had tested positive. September 26th it was revealed that their outside linebackers coach had also tested positive. After their game against the Minnesota Vikings, more players and team personnel tested positive by the day. As it stands at the time of writing, 10 plays and 10 personnel have tested positive on the Titans. Tennessee is currently under investigation for potentially not following COVID guidelines. Thankfully, there have been no positive results on the Vikings.

The NFL’s Negligence

The world has come to learn that COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to show itself and a person can be contagious for up to 72 hours prior to testing positive or showing symptoms. The CDC has recommended that anyone who has come into close contact with a positive person to quarantine for 2 weeks. The plan that the NFL and NFLPA laid out and agreed to says that an asymptomatic player must be isolated for 5 days and test negative. A symptomatic player must be isolated and symptom-free for 10 days before returning to team activities.

As we’ve seen with the Titans, it can take a few days for a person to start showing signs and testing positive. I don’t think it’s responsible for the Patriots to be flying in a petri dish, err…tube in the sky, when they have had close contact with a confirmed positive case just one day into a possible incubation period.

Player Health

I disagree with Dan Roche. While the Patriots and Chiefs both continued to test negative after the initial reports of positive results, it’s really only a good look for the league. Less work for rescheduling if players continue to test negative. The NFL should be prioritizing player’s health before their revenue. Sure, for now, it’s only Cam Newton that has tested positive. I hope that it stays that way but that’s not realistic given the state of the Titans. Delaying the Patriots game by one day won’t change anything. It will be a terrible look for the league if more players begin to test positive during the upcoming week, as we’ve already seen to be the case.

According to ProFootballFocus multiple coaches suggested that the NFL pauses the season and tries to figure out more safety measures and how to bubble for the remainder of the season.

My Thoughts

It was bound to happen eventually, we saw it with the MLB. However, I think the NFL should be more proactive in trying to save the health of players/personnel and their families. The league should pause for two weeks and reassess the situation. They can truly think about the logistics of a potential bubble or implement more strict safety protocols. Also, add an additional opt-out period as I’m sure more players are questioning their decision to play this season and may not feel safe continuing the season.

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-Jess Donahue (@jldx392)

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